Beauty is the subject for many poets, artists and philosophers. Let’s look at a patchwork quilt of ideas about what it could mean to live in beauty.
Beauty as a feeling
‘Bear Heart’ from the Muskogee tribe of Native American Indians says:
‘… the way to attain the beauty in life is through harmony. Be in harmony with all things, but most important, be in harmony with yourself first. A lot will go on in your life … but that one word, harmony, will neutralize any problems and help your life to become beautiful.’
So beauty is a feeling that can arise with a sense of harmony, ease and grace.
Life and work as Beauty
Artists and designers in the 1800s felt that this had been almost destroyed by the Industrial Revolution. Various individuals and groups, consisting of artists, interior designers, jewellery-makers and architects, embraced what became known as the Arts & Crafts Movement.
‘William Morris believed passionately in the importance of creating beautiful, well-made objects that could be used in everyday life, …. Produced in a way that allowed their makers to remain connected both with their product and with other people.’
~ Arts & Crafts: an introduction from the
Victoria & Albert Museum
This feels a very relevant approach to apply today. Many more people are looking to create lives that nurture connection among community and use sustainable materials. To incorporate the beautiful yet practical.
Individuals like Rosemary and her Wild Rose Basketry based in Ireland work with this ethos. She weaves beautiful willow baskets and so much more. One of many artisan creators across the world.
And businesses who are linking together so we can make informed choices when we buy, for example B Corporations who believe:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world
- Business ought to be conducted as if people and place matter
- Through products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all
- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations
We are all visited by Beauty
We can take inspiration from John O’Donohue who wrote ‘Divine Beauty’.
Here, beauty is all around us and comes from within us too.
‘… beauty filling up the heart and then overflowing to render body, language, gesture and laughter radiant. The mind and the senses unite in the experience of beauty.’
Beauty in nature
Mary Oliver describes peonies:
‘…the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air …
beauty in the brave, the exemplary,
to be wild and perfect for a moment…’
We are not separate from nature!
Just as the peonies are beautiful and vibrant, so are we!
We know it emerges naturally when we see babies and young children. Beauty shines in their innocence and unhindered joy. We forget this as we march sternly into adulthood.
‘It is essential that we gain the unshakeable realization that our being is our sustenance; that we become our own source of happiness and support.’
So here we’re reminded that we can choose to nurture the impulse to create beauty, love, harmony, kindness, grace. These qualities burst forth from within us and are to be found around us too. Beauty exists, within and outside, if we remember to notice it.
Last word from John O’Donohue:
‘When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world.’
And to meditate on beauty, I invite you to listen in to my 5-minute SoundCloud recording:
The Wind is My Mother by Bear Heart
Full version of Mary Oliver’s poem: Peonies
Journey to the Heart of God by Almine
May you walk in beauty!